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Archive 2008 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts
  
 
Joe Winn
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


I purchased 5minutephoto about a month ago for onsite viewing/ordering and wanted to offer my thoughts since I've seen and participated in a thread or two here about onsite viewing software.

Let's start off by saying I am a noob at the onsite viewing thing. I researched some things through the fine people here on FM and decided to go with 5minutephoto for my needs. Up until very recently we (my wife, her brother and myself) were one of those "check out our pictures online in a couple of days" businesses. We took pictures, handed out cards and hoped for the best.

Well, we decided to make a serious go of it and bought a 16ft enclosed trailer and put 7 viewing stations in it. Our needs were simple...no printing onsite, just viewing. Our "server" is basically a souped up PC that was previously my home PC running XP Pro. The viewing stations are low powered PCs with XP Home.

After getting everything working correctly at home we decided to do a semi dry run at a Martial Arts tournament. I say dry run because historically the martial arts people have bought the least from us.

First thing after we get a few hundred pics loaded I am getting all sorts of errors from the viewing stations about how they have lost connection to the server or can't find the file on the server etc etc. Also I getting errors on the loader software on the server. Argh...so I call 5minutephoto's 1-800 number, on a Saturday no less, and leave a message. I get a call back very shortly (wtf? it's saturday and they are closed)...he runs me through some Q+A and I have the default permissions set wrong on the server. Dang...Ok I fix that with some help from him on the phone.

More errors happen on the viewing stations with no rhyme nor reason. They randomly lose connection to the server...wtf? I call again and leave a message. I get a call back immediately...who is this guy? It's saturday...go spend some time with your family dammit Apparently I am putting too much strain on XP Pro than was originally designed. He suggests I shut down 3 stations. XP Pro was not designed to have this many stations demanding thousands of photos to be viewed at the same time. I shut 3 down...no problems after that. Brilliant!

So, I spend the next week scrambling to pick up a copy of Server 2003 before our big debut with the trailer at a soccer tourney.

Long story somewhat shorter, everything goes perfectly with Server 2003 loaded up on the server!

Soo...in a nutshell...David at 5minutephoto was extremely helpful. He went over the top by returning my calls on saturday and helping me out over the phone while I'm kinda stressed out at an event. The software itself is simple and perfect for what we are doing...loading photos on site for viewing on site. I am extremely happy and I thank David for helping me out on his days off.





Apr 10, 2008 at 07:02 AM
figmented
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


yup, similar situation in my print shop with our graphics department.. xp is good with 6 users or less, and thats with minimal throughput.. server2003 we have 20+


Apr 10, 2008 at 10:46 AM
ppayne
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


I ran 5minute photo on 8 viewing stations with an xp server last weekend and apart from the occasional error when uploading cards, everything was fine. For some reason the program sometimes has problems renaming the viewing folder after it has created the small thumbnails. The side effect of this is that it does not format the cards, which can be frustrating.


Apr 10, 2008 at 11:01 AM
Gerry Kerr
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


Joe,

As a matter of interest, did having the viewing stations increase your sales at all?

Gerry

Edited on Apr 10, 2008 at 12:40 PM



Apr 10, 2008 at 12:39 PM
cpurves
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


Hi Joe:- I use 5 min photo with three stations from a laptop with xp home. Never a problem with the system. David has always answered my emails quickly and in a way that I understand. The software is very good and even better is not too expensive.

We shoot dog shows and are (I think) the only show photographers in Canada to use more than one computer. We get a lot of postive comments about the fact that more than one person can view their photos at once. Our sales actually went up when we went away from onsite printing and up again when we started using the multiple viewing stations.

Cheers
Chris



Apr 10, 2008 at 03:38 PM
Joe Winn
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


ppayne...if you have the stations set to slide show as a screen saver then the slide show will sometimes pull a picture from the currently uploading picture folder with the ~ in front of it. This is a bug that is being fixed currently. Just turn off the screen saver....or make it pull from a specific folder. If a station pulls a photo from the ~ folder before the upload is complete then it can't rename the folder because it is in use.

Gerry...Well typically I'd have zero on site sales We had over $2500 on site sales this time. And we are still getting online sales as we normally would. It was only this past weekend so time will tell.






Apr 10, 2008 at 04:15 PM
ppayne
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


Thanks for that Joe. Thatís explains things a little as we have changed the hardware and the version of software a few times and still had the problem. We do have the slide show enabled and it normally kicks in after a couple of minutes. I will create a separate folder of the best shots as I also planned to add a couple of advertisements in there too.

Apart from this problem the software has been well worth the money. Not sure what they could do to improve other than speed up the processing of images. We used to shoot on L but now we use M1. It does not make much difference to photo but it does speed up processing times.



Apr 11, 2008 at 02:27 PM
ppayne
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


Chris, we shot for a year with onsite printing and this year we are only taking orders onsite. We now send the photos out during the week and we have also seen an increase in sales. We save on having to employ someone just for the printing but it costs extra for the postage, envelopes and my time to print during the week. I still prefer this method as we have better contact with the customers and I can check the quality of each print.


Apr 11, 2008 at 02:38 PM
cpurves
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


ppayne wrote:
We now send the photos out during the week and we have also seen an increase in sales. We save on having to employ someone just for the printing but it costs extra for the postage, envelopes and my time to print during the week. I still prefer this method as we have better contact with the customers and I can check the quality of each print.


I was using Olympus P400 printers. They have some dust issues but the main reason we went away from the printing was the speed of the printers. They were relatively fast but still we would have a backlog at the end of the show and would still have to print some later and mailout.
The dyesub media for the olympus was getting pretty high. My 8X10 price, envelope and cardboard, and postage is about the same as the dyesub media. I prefer the processing after we get back as there is a lot less pressure and no one looking over my shoulder so everything goes faster.


Cheers
Chris




Apr 11, 2008 at 03:22 PM
dkollander
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


When using less then 8 viewing stations What makes 5 minute photo a better choice over using window xp slide show and just bringing up the folder thumbnails?
Does it take the orders? does it intergrate with quickbooks?

Edited on Apr 11, 2008 at 03:36 PM



Apr 11, 2008 at 03:30 PM
 

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ppayne
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


I think you can switch on some kind of order processing but I prefer to keep the keyboards away from the customers. The setup is very simple and the customers can find their way around it without any tuition.

We upload the images labelling each match and selecting the photographer. The software creates a thumbnail for viewing, makes a copy of the original and labels each file with a letter relating to the photographer before wiping the card. The customers have the simple task of browsing a list of matches. Once they select the match they want to view they can look at the thumbnail photos. Clicking on any of the thumbnail photos shows the customer a bigger image. The customer then fills in a paper form listing the images numbers they want to purchase along with their personal details. They take this to the casher (who also uploads the cards most of the time) and pay via cash or card.

The great thing is that the customer only sees the mouse so the setup is not over complicated and they canít do any damage. When I get home I hook the server up to my CP9550 and CP3800 and run off the orders.



Apr 11, 2008 at 11:21 PM
dkollander
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


I use windows xp and I do all that now using a ndas external drive that is only readable to the viewing stations but writable to my editing station. Almost everyone with a computer knows how to navigate windows xp. Why would I want to plunk down another $275 for this software? I'm not knocking the software....I'm trying to find a reason to buy it and so far I it looks like it does what windows xp does with a different interface. Give some more reasons I am always looking for better productivity and integration at a modest cost.


Apr 12, 2008 at 02:08 PM
ppayne
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


Will Windows XP erase the cards as they are upload, label the groups of photos without having to do it by creating separate directories manually? Can it set the size of the thumbnails and watermark them if you want? Auto generate a date/time sequence headings to speed up game sorting? Remove the need for the customers to touch the keyboard and stop them accessing the Windows desktop? Auto rotate images for previewing? Post fix a letter to all files identifying each photographer. Automatically resize images to take advantage of screen resolution? Fix your logo on the screen for all to see? Run an advertisement for your best seller across the bottom of all screens? Show the name and the domain name for your web site on the screen? Run a slide show of you best shots when nobody is using the viewing stations? Allow customers to create there own album that they can add images to?

.....and most of all, look professional and provide a quick and easy way for even non computer literate people to view their photos.



Apr 12, 2008 at 07:30 PM
dkollander
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


I must not be busy enough doing motorsports photography to appreciate everything it does. I manually have to do much of that in windowsxp. I am the only photographer and I have a helper that takes orders, helps my customers and does some editing while I am out shooting. And when she is not doing that she makes sure the slide shows are up and running.


Apr 12, 2008 at 08:14 PM
ppayne
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


So the least it will do is save you time. I shoot many Martial Arts events where i and another photographer shoot more than one area at a time. This does not leave much time for doing anything manually when uploading images. We want the person taking the orders to spend time talking to customers and helping them part with their cash or credit cards. If you need to use many manual processes to get your images on your viewing stations you are going to struggle when you need to replace your assistant.


Apr 12, 2008 at 10:06 PM
luketrot
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


We use to use 5 Minute Photo but we recently switched to Photo Parata. 5 Minute Photo is very linear and I never cared for how it handled importing. I have also found Photo Parata MUCH easier to setup and troubleshoot as your not dealing with file sharing.

Photo Parata setup with 32 viewing stations.
http://www.midcoastphoto.com/onsite/slides/18348.JPG




Apr 15, 2008 at 01:57 PM
ppayne
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


I currently use 5minutephoto and it works well but I am always on the lookout for new ways to streamline our processes. Does anyone know any event software that will automatically tag a group of photos with a time section derived from the photos being processed? For example, if you have photos on a card that had time stamps between 11:35 and 11:54, it would add this to the Game name = Area 1 - 11:35-11:54


Apr 15, 2008 at 07:57 PM
PhotoParata
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


PPayne,

Hi, allow me to introduce myself, I am Sam Carleton, the developer of Photo Parata. I am very interest in your time stamp idea. Would you mind dropping me an email so I can find out some more details on exactly what you have in mind?

Sam Carleton



Apr 16, 2008 at 02:03 PM
cferron
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


Ppayne, are you thinking about automatic classification or sorting? If this is the case, many problems may arise...
How do you determine the field number the game was shot on using the EXIF? In the comment section?
What is your camera are out of sync for the times? Pictures could end up in different categories....
Just trying to see how this would speed up the process at the end.
If you can help us better understand

Also on another mindset, hardware is also critical when it come to performance and peace of mind. Do any of these guys at 5 minutes photos or photo Paratas advise you on that? It might be alright if you only need 5 to 10 stations, but what happened if you need 30 to 40 and have 6 to 10 photographers bringing chips in with 200+ pictures @ 5-6megs each? Will the system keep up? Does it support multi-core CPU?
I have been also supplying viewing station server (VSS) for 5 years now (Hardware + Software). I have tested various configurations and settings (terminal server, TFTP, multi-screen and so on...) big events are my specialty. Work flow, logistic and efficiency are things that drives me.

I'm not saying that these software are bad, but keep in mind that a digital proofing system has to be easy to deploy, to use and reliable. This is critically true for big events. You use quality gear when you shoot (I hope ) Why would that be different for your proofing stations? Remember that we are in the business to sell photos and not get all caught up in viewing software etc.

My 2 cents.

If you are interested in what I could provide:
www.subitophoto.net/vss/

I would be more than happy to answer questions within the forum so everyones knowledge could benefit form it.

Edited on Apr 29, 2008 at 05:49 PM



Apr 29, 2008 at 05:49 PM
njw
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · 5minutephoto for onsite viewing thoughts


I'm in the process of switching from an all manual system of organizing event photos using ACDSee Pro and moving over to EPS (eventphotosystems.com). In my initial tests, EPS is solid, fast and dead simple to operate. I'm training my booth staff this week and they LOVE it. What I find is that at larger events, my booth staff are spending more time collecting and sorting than they are selling. With EPS, the whole process is MUCH faster and they will have more time to sell images over the old system. I'm also thinking that I'm going to move to off-site print and ship rather than on-site. Printing requires more time per order, and lends itself to too many issues with printers, ink, paper etc problems. It just may be better to deal with that on the week after the event.

I'll be doing my first MX event this Sunday with the new system, but so far it looks promising.

Cheers

njw



Apr 29, 2008 at 06:04 PM
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